Darren McFadden didn’t try and hide his disappointment.
“I can’t even lie, it’s been hard for me this week because I’ve been thinking about it,” McFadden said Wednesday. “That’s something you just have to try and shake it off, come back from it in the next game. It’s all about having a short memory.”
The fumbling was a recurrence of an old college problem. One of the few knocks on McFadden when he came out of Arkansas as one of the most decorated backs in Southeastern Conference history was his 23 fumbles, nine of which were lost.
When McFadden was drafted, former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said more than half of the fumbles where when he was either returning kickoffs or playing quarterback in the Wildcat, taking violent shots as opposed to straight handoffs in traffic.
In the 23-3 loss to Denver, McFadden fumbled three times on routine running plays _ including one at the 6-yard line which was recovered by Brian Dawkins that essentially closed the door on any chance the Raiders had of making things interesting. He’s fumbled seven times as an NFL player.
“That’s what it mainly is, falling back into a bad habit. If you don’t think about it much, just going out there running, it doesn’t have to be a big hit,” McFadden said. “It’s just as simple as guy knocking it when they’re tackling you and the ball just comes out.”
Through 18 games, McFadden’s professional career has been one long fuse that went off once in Week 2 last year but has mostly fizzled out. Aside from his 164-yard game against the Chiefs last season, McFadden has broken 100 yards in combined rushing and receiving only once _ getting 46 yards rushing and 68 receiving last season against New England.
In either area he hasn’t approached what the Raiders hoped for when he was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 draft. As a runner, McFadden has struggled to turn the downhill zone-blocked runs into steady gains and the Raiders seem more intent on going that way than attacking the perimeter.
“it’s just the type of offense that we run,” McFadden said. “You have to go for it and keep hitting, you get 2 or 3 yards here and there and finally the big one will come so you just have to keep hitting and keep pounding it until you get that open space.”
It hasn’t helped that opponents are crowding the line of scrimmage to choke off the run in hopes of forcing Russell to pass, although McFadden thinks the yards should come anyway.
“It’s very frustrating but I feel I’ve played against a lot of eight-man boxes throughout my career, college, Little League, high school ,whatever it was,” McFadden said. “It’s just something you have to keep pushing, try to shake it off and come back out the next week and try to do it better, a better job.”
Good news could be on the way in the form of a Houston defense ranked 32nd against the run (204.7 yards per game).
More to come later following Tom Cable’s post-pracitce press briefing . . .